Our first ever Towards Inclusion Conference was held on 27 November 2015 at the Grange Hotel, with over 120 colleagues joining us for the day. My initial thoughts – Wow! What an enjoyable and challenging day!
The Conference was opened by our Chief Executive, Jackie Daniel, outlining where we have come on our journey towards effortless inclusion, impressed by how far we have already come in such a short space of time but noting that there was a long way to go still!
To support the Trust’s journey, we signed off a formal partnership agreement with BAPIO’s President, Ramesh Mehta. This is a ground-breaking and innovative development, and it was great to see some
of BAPIO’s expertise shared with us throughout the day.
Our next speaker was Laurence Harvey, who delivered a hugely engaging session on Unconscious Bias. Whilst we may have had great fun during the hour, there was a very serious message underpinning it that challenged our perceptions, made us conscious of our unconscious minds. I left with the
awareness that the assumptions I make are more about me than the people I am assuming things about.
We then had a joint session delivered by our BAPIO Partners, Ramesh Mehta, Surinder Sharma, Isaac John and Joel O’Loughlin. They gave us a flavour of what we will do together through the partnership, improving patient care and employee experience. They gave the message that inclusion is simply the right thing to do, that their wisdom is there to be shared and whilst we may not always agree, it is healthy to debate and challenge views.
As the biggest employer of BME staff across Europe, it is clear that the NHS has to get it right and
#leadbyexample. We need to practice our values – behavioural standards are in place but we now need to go above and beyond in delivering them. The challenge – if our people are our greatest asset, are we treating those people with the value they deserve? The commitment to improve and be inclusive has to come from everyone.
The most profound statement of the day came from Joel, talking about inclusivity – “It’s not the difference that makes the difference, but the difference that the difference makes!” He also stated that we should measure our success by how we treat the most vulnerable.
We then broke into workshop sessions, one focused on Human Factors and Inclusion, delivered by Ruth Keeler and Kate Casey, and the other session run by NHS Employers’ Paul Deemer, looking at how we can improve recruitment and retention for protected groups by looking at things from their perspective.
Our final presentation of the day came from Estephanie Dunn, Regional Officer for the Royal College of Nursing. She told us that we needed to reach out harder and faster, to become more aware of the terminology and language that we use. She promoted the value of difference, talked of the consequence of applying arbitrary and unjustified rules and encouraged everyone to be curious and embrace difference.
We ended with a panel Q&A session, where the audience had an opportunity to seek advice, guidance and knowledge from an esteemed panel made up of the day’s speakers. We also asked people if they wanted us to do something similar next year – the unanimous show of hands means that we are already starting to plan!
David Wilkinson, Director of Workforce and Organisational Development